Raymond Maxwell, the only official at the State Department’sbureau of Near Eastern Affairs to lose his job after the attacks, tells Josh Rogin that he’s been scapegoated by Hillary Clinton’s team, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Beast.
Following the attack in Benghazi, senior State Department officials close to Hillary Clinton ordered the removal of a mid-level official who had no role in security decisions and has never been told the charges against him. He is now accusing Clinton’s team of scapegoating him for the failures that led to the death of four Americans last year.
Hillary Clinton laughs as she testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in January. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Raymond Maxwell was placed on forced “administrative leave” after the State Department’s own internal investigation, conducted by an Administrative Review Board (ARB) led by former State Department official Tom Pickering. Five months after he was told to clean out his desk and leave the building, Maxwell remains in professional and legal limbo, having been associated publicly with the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American for reasons that remain unclear.
Maxwell, who served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs from August 2011 until his removal last December, following tours in Iraq and Syria, spoke publicly for the first time in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast.
“The overall goal is to restore my honor,” said Maxwell, who has now filed grievances regarding his treatment with the State Department’s human resources bureau and the American Foreign Service Association, which represents the interests of foreign-service officers. The other three officials placed on leave were in the diplomatic security bureau, leaving Maxwell as the only official in the bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), which had responsibility for Libya, to lose his job.
“I had no involvement to any degree with decisions on security and the funding of security at our diplomatic mission in Benghazi,” he said.
Maxwell was removed from his job on Dec. 18, the day after the ARB report was released, and subsequently placed on administrative leave, which is meant to give the State Department time to investigate whether Maxwell should be fired or return to work. Five months later, that investigation seems stalled and Maxwell sits at home, where he continues to be paid but is not allowed to return to his job.
The State Department declined to comment on the reasons that Maxwell and the other officials were placed on administrative leave, or on what the four were told about the reasons for the decision. It did confirm that the ARB did not recommend direct disciplinary action because it didn’t find misconduct or a direct breach of duty by the officials. “As a matter of policy, we don’t speak to specific personnel matters,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
Since the leave is not considered a formal disciplinary action, Maxwell has no means to appeal the status, as he would if he had been outright fired. To this day, he says, nobody from the State Department has ever told him why he was singled out for discipline. He has never had access to the classified portion of the ARB report, where all of the details regarding personnel failures leading up to Benghazi are confined. He also says he has never been shown any evidence or witness testimony linking him to the Benghazi incident.
Maxwell says he had planned to retire last September, but extended his time voluntarily after the Sept. 11 attack to help the bureau in its time of need. Now, he is refusing to retire until his situation is clarified. He is seeking a restoration of his previous position, a public statement of apology from State, reimbursement for his legal fees, and an extension of his time in service to equal the time he has spent at home on administrative leave.
“For any FSO being at work is the essence of everything and being deprived of that and being cast out was devastating,” he said.
Soon after being removed from his job, Maxwell was visited at his home late one evening and directed to sign a letter acknowledging his administrative leave and forfeiting his right to enter the State Department. He refused to sign, responding in writing that it amounted to an admission he had done something wrong.
“They just wanted me to go away but I wouldn’t just go away,” he said. “I knew Chris [Stevens]. Chris was a friend of mine.”
“Behind Beth’s back, Maxwell ended up being put on administrative leave.”
The decision to place Maxwell on administrative leave was made by Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills, according to three State Department officials with direct knowledge of the events. On the day after the unclassified version of the ARB’s report was released in December, Mills called ActingAssistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Beth Jones and directed her to have Maxwell leave his job immediately.
“Cheryl Mills directed me to remove you immediately from the [deputy assistant secretary] position,” Jones told Maxwell, according to Maxwell.
The decision to remove Maxwell and not Jones seems to conflict with the finding of the ARB that responsibility for the security failures leading up to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi should fall on more senior officials.
“We fixed [the responsibility] at the assistant secretary level, which is in our view the appropriate place to look, where the decision-making in fact takes place, where, if you like, the rubber hits the road,” Pickering said when releasing the ARB report.
The report found “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department,” namely the Diplomatic Security (DS) and Near Eastbureaus. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns testified in December that requests for more security in Libya, denied by the State Department, did reach the assistant secretaries and “it may be that some of my colleagues on the 7th floor saw them as well.”
But Jones was not disciplined in any way following the release of the report, nor was the principal deputy assistant secretary of State at NEA, Liz Dibble, who is slated to receive a plush post as the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in London this summer. In the DS bureau, the assistant secretary, principal deputy, and deputy assistant all lost their jobs. In the NEA bureau, only Maxwell was asked to leave.
Jones and Dibble were responsible for security in Libya, Maxwell and three State Department officials said. What’s more, when Maxwell was promoted to his DAS position in August 2011, most responsibility for Libya was carved out of his portfolio, which also included Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Although Maxwell did some work on Libya, all security related decisions were handled by Dibble and Jones, according to the three officials.
One State Department official close to the issue told The Daily Beast that Clinton’s people told the leadership of the NEA bureau that Maxwell would be given another job at State when the Benghazi scandal blew over. Maxwell said Jones assured him he would eventually be brought back to NEA as a “senior advisor,” but that Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, reneged.
“The deal that NEA made with Cheryl Mills and the 7th floor was to keep Ray within NEA and just give him another portfolio. For whatever reason, it didn’t go down like that and that was a complete shock to Beth [Jones], because that was the deal that Beth made with Cheryl,” the official said. “Behind Beth’s back, Maxwell ended up being put on administrative leave.”
The only way to keep the momentum going and get something done with regard to a likely
Benghazi coverup, especially after the revealing whistle blowing hearing yesterday, is to have a special bi-partisanselect committee similar to the Watergate Hearings or the Mitchell investigation hearings of illegal drug use in Baseball, according to Frank Wolf, representative from Virginia. Right now, there are several partisan committees going in different directions, not working together, according to Wolf . He is pushing for such a committee to take up and run with what he and many believe to be a coverup by Administation people: first , not being prepared and then covering their mistakes in Benghazi. This is probably the only way something will get done before summer and before more time goes by and people forget the tragedy of September 11, 2013 which resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Such a committee would have supoena power and a selected person to run the committee. The speaker does not have to be from the House. Right now, SpeakerJohn Boehner has been holding back , though 60% of Republicans are in favor of such a committee, to day, according to Wolf
Frank Wolf mentioned a list of his concerns, such as:
-why were the jets not allowed to go in to try to save remaining security forces in Benghazi?
-who changed talking points?
Wolf suggests we call our congressmen, telling them that you support Frank Wolf and a select committee on Benghazi
It appears a carefully scripted interview featuring outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with President Obama took place sunday night January 31 to help position Clinton in a better light for a likely run for President in 2016.
Following what most objective viewsers must consider a meltdown by her in the recent Benghazi Congressional hearing, Clinton needed to go out on a positive note and Obama and liberal leaning 60 MInutes helped accommodate her,Clinton spoke about how proud she is of how she performed as Secretary and theÂ position in which she left the country. One could easily ask whY and how?
Under Clinton the U.S. lost two at least two long-time pro-american administrationsÂ in Egypt Â in Libya. while they may have been dictatorships, at least the theÂ governemetns of Mubaric and Kadafi remained pro-Israel and helped keep theirÂ geographical neighborhoods non-violent over the past few decades. Their ‘MuslimÂ Brotherhood’ replacements have already resulted in considerable bloodshedÂ including the loss of our Libyan ambassador Stevens and three other americans –another black mark againstÂ Clinton as it appears she and her fellow administrators might have been ableÂ to prevent the deaths had they paid better att enetion to security reports.Â Her admission to not liking to appear on Sunday morning talk shows and that ‘ it didn’tÂ matter’ what she did or didn’t do during the Benghazi affair hardly speaks wellÂ for her.
Even the one real notch in her belt, the killing of Bin Laden has comeÂ into question as to whether it was the Bush administration that really set upÂ the intelligence that took Bin Laden, and some are now questioning the possibleÂ torturous methods used in gaining information. Finally, under Clinton, the U.S.Â lost more Navy Seals that in all prevous years coombined including 23 in oneÂ incident along with over 1,000 military troops in Irag and Afghanistan,Â where war and American deaths continue to mount.
During the hour interview, Clinton managed NOT to answer the question if she felt guilty over Benghazi. Obama, long a rival of Hillary’s, looked odd suddenly playing up to Clinton, giving short, programmed answers like ‘Hillary was one of of the best Secretaries of State,’ ‘Hilllary is a strong friend.’ etc. It obviously was so staged to make the HIllary and Obama and Democrats look clean in front of their press friends and nation on Clinton’s exit. If things were such ,again, why is Hillary leaving the cabinet, as we will ask again and again.
Now, Hillary gets in the act. Though she can’t (yet) make presidential decisions she can assert herself as she did on the Congressional stand Wednesday, trying to defend herself and the administration from the potential Benghazi ‘coverup’ .
How someone who has taken ‘full responsibility’ for the Benghazi disaster,can emphatically state ‘ it doesn’t matter’ what happened but that we just need to prevent it from happening again, we have a major problem. This, from the leading candidate to be the Democratic nominee for President in 2016? And, of course that’s not all.
She went on to admit she doesn’t like to do Sunday morning talk shows, thus we had Susan Rice erring big time, which contributed mightily to Hillary and the administration’s subsequent problems. And, further, we saw Hillary continuously referring to ‘the ARB’, the investigative report on Benghazi done by her own state staff, whenever there was something she didn’t want to talk about. ‘It’s too lengthy to go into now, but you can find it in the ARB.’ Or, she would state that some things were STILL not resolved and she couldn’t give an answer, as she’s been for the past four months.
COUNTRY’S REACTION: HOW DO HILLARY, OBAMA and the Administration Get Away with all this Stuff?
After seeing Hillary on the stand, giving what we would consider a very poor performance, -never really telling us anything, e.g. who did what, who made the decisions or didn’t make the decisions – and then the response from the media (or lack therof) we’re beginning to finally understand why we have such a split country.
For the general media Hillary got a pass and was even praised for how she defended herself and the administration. Truly incrediable! What it comes down to now is that virtually anything Clinton says will be defended by today’s media, with the exception of Fox. We’re talking not about talk show hosts so much as the mainstream news media.
There was once something called objectivity in the news but today one must consider the news source and try to find a balance, if possible. For example , any news feed from the NEW YORK TIMES is likely to defend Obama, Hillary, et al. Same for most of the others. You might get an unbiased real news report from the Wall Street Journal if you’re lucky but that’s about it for the mainstream media.
How anyone can defend Clinton’s statement, ‘It doesnt (at this time) matter’ anymore, in reference to Benghazi, is akin to closing down the courts and letting all potential criminals off. Sure, there were the actual murderers who killed Ambassador Stevens and three others but the murders likely would not have happened had Hillary read the ‘cables’ from Benghazi, requesting more security, as Senator Rand Paul noted, or had she showed up, herself at the Sunday morning shows rather than passing the buck to an inexperienced Susan Rice. In a sense, Clinton and/or members of the Administration were the REAL culprits for enabling the murders to happen.
(Afterall, this was the first time an US ambassador was killed in over 30 years which would indicated something like this just shouldn’t happen.) Yet, inexplicably, one side of America seemingly goes along with everything and anything the administration does, even something so incredibly and obviously WRONG! To say something doesn’t matter why even have court hearings – or rules to live by, for that matter. President Obama has basically stonewalled the entire proceedings himself. Had Obama taken the stand we would likely have seem a similar performance of passing the buck.
How someone as intelligent as Clinton – and obama- can get away with this stuff is beyond us. Worse though, is the half of the American populous that sits by accepting this stuff. Even the Republican leaders could have done a better job of grilling Clinton. With the exception of Paul and a few others, it was largely a love fest for Hillary, a probable bump in the road on the way to a 2016 nomination for President, assuming she still wants this. Have we become a brain dead nation, so dumbed down by Obama’s ‘giveaway’ culture that doesn’t encourage work or even much thought. Just live and enjoy while the government and working stiffs pay for the 50% who don’t .
OBAMA’S 23 DIRECTIVES PLUS
So we have President obama now coming up with not one ,not two but 23 ‘gun’ bills he wants to push through on his own. And. now he’s already made the order to allow women in the front lines of our military. Now, tha he’s been elected and before he goes into true ‘lame duck’ status it’s Seemingly every day something else he’s trying to push through. The idea, of course, is just to ‘goo for it all’ and hope at least some of the directives will stick. And, some probably will.
It’s Obama at his best, which may not necessarily be best for the country.
TRANSPARENCY – word of year
Word of the year, at least in politics, has to be ‘transparency.’ I hear it all the time, from obama to anyone in government and those covering them.
I guess it’s supposed to be a positive thing, but I think of it as a negative , ie ‘How transparent these people are.’ As if , you can see right through them…
Caching up on our blogs as we were down a few days due to technical difficulties, sorry…
OBAMA and HILLARY MUM ON ALGERIA
After saying nothing about the rather serious hostage taking by Islamic militants our head foreign leader, Hillary Clinton acknowledged the hostage taking by saying simply words ‘We hope for as few casualties as possible,’ or close to that. Duh! Do we think that she would be hoping for more loss of life? Perhaps Hilary would do better to say nothing than to come out with inane words must tofill the void… and, of course , there was nothing from President Obama, other than his twitters to eight-year-plds…In fact, while Clinton and Obama had reallynoting to say, it was Reuters who was at least giving us some details including that two American hostages were being held in a gas plant in Algeria and that some otherhostages were killed in a raid.
MORE THAN GUNS
Perhaps Obama should spend some time on the other peripherals that contribute to the crime program. Violence has become part of the culture. It’s in the movies, the music, our daily lives – what with murder rates climbing in major cities like Chicago. Some like producer Quentin Tarrantino may say that violence in the ‘arts’ has no affect on violence in society but statistics show otherwise.
Obama’s decry of guns has simply sent thousands to the gun stores to clean them out of anything and everything. And besides, those are mostly the honest people. It’s the crimnal element that will get it’s guns anywhere they can – and do. Nothing against tougher gun laws here, but it’s only a fraction of the problem.
We must try to remove violence from the culture, just like England and some other countries have done. The crime and murder rate in England is proportionately much lower than it is in the U.S. There is much more civlity in that country, where even the ‘Bobby’s’ (please) don’t need to carry guns, as a rule, we are told.
OBAMA TURNS THE TABLES
OBAMA railed against President Bush raising the debt ceiling in 2006, callingBush a ‘tyrant trying to gin up’ the debt celing. It would appear Obama is doingexacly what he spoke against six years ago, having now nearly doubled our debt from when Bush left office going from $4million to $7 million.
He said he would compromise with Republicans on the debt ceiling and took only six questions from press people who seemed to be predeterminedfrom a list he would scan.
It was only the second press conference in a year. Some in the crowd said they missed the days of Clinton and Bush I where press conferences were light and open, where any questions were fair game and topics were open. The public… Does anyone really care anymore? During the press conference apparently viewers of TV’s the Price is Right were outraged that their showwas preempted for Obama’s speech. Haven’t people noticed that their taxes havegone up…even those 40-50% who weren’t paying taxes will now have to paythe payroll tax (1-2% of their income) if they’re working?
In 2006 Obama complained that Bush II would pull out a credit cardto raise taxes on a whim, who was ‘unpatriotic for raising the debt to 4 trillion dollars. Has anybody reminded Obama lately that he has raised the deficit to 7 trillion from 4 trillion?
We also learn that Obama has tried 19 times to write new gun law , and others, on his own. However, there is something called a constitution which prohibits the president from doing this on his own.But, if people don’t care and watch this , who knows what can slip by.
For those who say the Republicans are being too hard on the Democrats, let’s lookback at the Clinton administration. When things weren’t going well initially,Clinton, Gingrich and co. tightened up spending, to only 20% of GDP or about 1.5 trillion dollars as compared to Obama at about 35% or 3 Trillion dollars. Fair Tax: or what about taxing people WHEN they spend, not before they spend whenyou don’t even know what they’re spending on or if they’re spending… Countries that have used it are doing well. No wonder the US is no longer in theTop 10 countries with lowest taxes. Nor are the Euroopean countires running in similar socialist manners.
Obama asks for ‘voluntary efforts’ for decreasing violence in movies, etc. Good luck to all these hypocritic movie stars coming out against guns but yet using them frequently in their violent mogies.
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